March 18, 2021
Ages and Ages
The only people who read websites like this (so I’m told) are librarians, teachers and students of children’s literature, but hey— librarians, teachers, and students, you’re particularly dear to me and I hope you’re doing fine, wherever you are in this big wide, complicated world.
I’m writing to let you know that I have aged. I’ve recently (and obviously successfully) clicked over to another milestone year and am therefore still alive, in case you were wondering. (I mean, this is hardly a daily blog.) Our daughter, Chloë, has turned 50, which is a shock and a huge puzzle since I feel only 50 myself. I re-wrote Time for Bed for her, as Time to Party, with the font exactly the same colour and size as the original, on each page. It looked real. Very exciting. Tears, etc! I love a good celebration.
I believe I’m officially ‘old’ now, and therefore at the front of the queue for a Covid vaccination, as soon as Australia gets itself organised. We’ve been clever enough as a nation to stop Covid in its tracks, to the extent that we now lead almost normal lives. But somewhere along the line we lost track of the fact that we all needed to be vaccinated eventually, in a co-ordinated, orderly fashion. That’s not happening yet, and people are getting anxious and cross, me included.
In the same week I turned 75, a new book appeared: EARLY ONE MORNING, illustrated by the very clever Catherine Davenier. (I read it aloud in the BOOKS section on this site, and also explain the story behind the story, and of course there’s a picture of the cover, and one below.) I know I’ve mentioned EARLY ONE MORNING before, but it wasn’t out then and now it is at last, and I’m as thrilled as ever, and can’t quite believe I’ve been a writer continuously for 38 years. The text of EARLY ONE MORNING is a mere 91 words—the shortest book I’ve written, but it took eight years, from 2012 till 2020, to get it right. You can understand why I groan inwardly when people say: ‘I think I’ll write a picture book one day, when I have the time.’ It isn’t only time that’s needed, it’s knowing how to use that time…
The new book, marching along!
Because of Covid, life is simpler and should be slower, but I feel rushed most days. I think it’s because I find it easier to say yes than to say no. I find myself, as I did this morning, having agreed to read a couple of books to five different kindergartens simultaneously on Zoom, and to answer some questions, to celebrate Harmony Week.. They were all in another state in Australia. I wondered, last night, if they had remembered the time difference between their state and mine. This morning I discovered they hadn’t take the time difference into account. At the point of this discovery, I was happily having breakfast and playing solo Mah Jong on my iPad, wearing an ancient white nightdress with cute little frills around the collar and an even older, very comfortable red dressing gown from LL Bean. My hair looked like a circus clown’s. I hadn’t showered. ARRRGHH!
From the moment I realised I had only half an hour to shower, do very special make-up and hair, and put flowers in my office, everything went wrong. It always does when you move too fast. I accidentally put conditioner on my hair before the shampoo, which delayed me by precious seconds. I did the buttons up wrongly, on my shirt, which had tiny buttons, and imagined the children pitying me because I was that kind of dozy old person. Which I am not. Never! (I lift 7kg/15lb weights 25 time every morning.) I’d chosen a pair of fiddly pearl earrings that were surprisingly difficult to put on, and as I fumbled, one fell on to the bathroom floor and I had to crawl around on my hands and knees beaming the torch light from my phone over the tiles until I found it. I raced into my office and accepted the Zoom call ten minutes early as planned, and then realised I’d left the books I was going to read in the bedroom. This was me! Miss Efficient! Miss Punctual! Miss Organised! Gone to pieces in less than an hour!
The moral of this story is to say no more often. It worked out OK in the end. No one was any the wiser, although I think was still wheezing slightly at the start of it…
I know this is only a crumb of news, instead of a whole loaf, but I hope you get the idea that I am still alive and kicking and writing, and so very happy to have you reading what I have written. Thank you!